The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Book Reviews

critic and theorist Colin Rowe and the equally gifted young Swiss architect
Bernhard Hoesli. Also included are a number of other young architects and
thinkers who subsequently established reputations in the architectural world:
John Hejduk, Robert Slutzky, Lee Hodgden, John Shaw, and Werner Seligmann.
The story line goes something like this: Hired to bring new life to a moribund
program, Dean Harris recruits a group of young firebrands from the faraway
East and West Coasts and from Europe. The new faculty, many of whom ques-
tion both the anti-intellectualist tendencies of American regionalism and the
modernist pedagogy inspired by the Bauhaus, institute an innovative curriculum
that draws on a curious blend of modernism, regionalism, high formalism, and
revived historicism. The centerpiece of this new teaching program is an empha-
sis on architectural form and space, using Gestalt principles and historic prece-
dent to help visualize and evaluate various building problems and situations.
The newcomers push through a series of curriculum changes, but spirited resis-
tance, led by the school's old guard, eventually leads to their downfall, and most
of the leading reformers-who subsequently become known as the "Texas
Rangers" (a name to which a number of them object)-depart by 1958, to live
on in myth and legend.
Caragonne tells the story well, and though it is abundantly clear that he sides
with the young reformers (he was an undergraduate in the department from
1953 to 1960 and later studied at Cornell University, where several of the
reformers ended up), the text is generally fair and even-handed. Caragonne's
vivid descriptions of the "Rangers"' struggle, the individual figures themselves,
and the innovative curriculum they forged add important new insights into the
history of architectural education and the architectural discourse of the 1950s.
But the book's chief merit is that it illustrates a crucial moment in the history of
the Modern Movement, when the faith in modernism's most cherished princi-
ples had begun to break down and no clear alternative had yet emerged.
Indeed, the teaching program that Rowe, Hoesli, and the others fashioned con-
tained many of the seeds of the postmodern revolution. And yet what is striking
about the approach of this "architectural underground," as Caragonne calls it,
was its extraordinary multiplicity and openness. John Shaw , who came to the
university to teach in the fall of 1955, recalled in an interview many years later
that the program was not "anything you could codify, or make into a body of
law, it [was] just a shared way of looking" (p. 407). That sense of openness and
possibility remains perhaps the great legacy of the Texas experiment and seems
more attuned to the situation today than ever before.
University of Texas at Austin CHRISTOPHER LONG
Desegregating Schools in Dallas. By Glenn Linden. (Dallas: Three Forks Press, 1995.
Pp. 243. Introduction, chronology, index. ISBN 0-9637629-1-5. $23.o0.)
This book is a well-written, well-researched narrative history of the forty-year
struggle to desegregate schools in Dallas. The monograph focuses on the court
cases which dealt with desegregation. A brief introduction sets the background

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed September 16, 2014.